In this edition of Arena, we welcome a virtual visitor from the United States. W Bro Dr Mark Dreisonstok, 32°, KCCH. Dr Dreisonstok is writer for, and soon-to-be managing editor of, The Scottish Rite Journal, the bimonthly periodical of The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA.

He holds a PhD from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and an MA from the University of Freiburg in Germany. As a fellow writer and editor, Bro Mark runs a regular feature to provide Masonic education through entertainment. We asked him to prepare an English version for our readers and to explain how it all started.

In July 2016 — five years ago this coming summer — a unique feature called Chips from the Quarry began to appear in The Scottish Rite Journal – a venerable Masonic periodical founded in Washington, DC, in 1904 as The New Age Magazine and serving the Southern Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Rose Croix) in the USA.

“Education can be combined with fun,” Bro Giroux noted as we were preparing for this article. This appellation is very much valid for Chips from the Quarry, which employs illustration, nostalgia, and a bit of humour to entertain as well as educate readers with every bimonthly appearance of the magazine. Chips from the Quarry is couched in the form of a comic strip, featuring four Masons who laboured in the same professional field of endeavour. It was patterned a bit after Did You Know?, an earlier comic feature which was produced for The Royal Arch Magazine, nationally distributed throughout the USA. Did You Know?, in turn, was inspired by the world-famous newspaper feature Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Yet Chips strikes out on its own in each instalment in the series, having as it does a specific theme. Some of our topics have included Masonic US Presidents, American Founding Fathers (Benjamin Franklin et al), Wild West frontiersmen (Buffalo Bill et al.), explorers, comedians (W.C. Fields et al), circus performers, stage magicians (Houdini et al), and jazz musicians (Duke Ellington et al). Occasionally, a panel has been devoted not to people but to topics such as postage stamps, musical shows, and appearances of the All-seeing Eye in non-Masonic contexts. 

Once in a while, Chips from the Quarry pays tribute to its comic strip roots with salutes to comics written by Masons or featuring Freemasonry. These have included Little Orphan Annie (which spawned the musical Annie), Mutt and Jeff, and the lovable Great Dane Marmaduke. We have even covered some “off-beat” topics such as chocolate confectioners, as well as makers and brewers of beverage concoctions! The feature encourages Masons to start making connections to their own past, and this high-reader interest department can encourage Masons to share interesting connections within the Craft with their families.

Chips from the Quarry was initiated by American Masonic writer Ill Gregory S. Kearse, 33º, and Canadian Masonic artist Ted Bastien, 32º. It was then written by Ill S Brent Morris, 33º, founder of the Scottish Rite Research Society and the only American to preside over Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076. During the past two years, Chips has been penned by Bro Mark, as editor and staff writer of The Scottish Rite Journal.

The Masonic education-through-entertainment feature at times follows the Masonic interests of its writers. Ill Kearse worked for the US military and thus had a series of Chips on Masons who were in the United States Air Force, Marines, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard. Dr Morris, a mathematician by training and profession, has designed a panel on Masons who were mathematicians. The author of the current article focuses on his interest on literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as mid-twentieth-century popular culture.

Reaching back into the archives, we have created a special Chips from the Quarry for Arena readers, bringing our education-through-entertainment feature into a London and English context. We in Washington extend this fraternal offering to our Brethren and Companions from London, whom we hope to enjoy our unique look at British Masons from various walks of life and, indeed, find this a tasty Chips!

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 44.